Whether Pongo is pushing or punching, it’s always making an impression.
On the eve of PromaxBDA The Conference 2015, the Hollywood-based creative services agency is celebrating both its 25th anniversary and the 25th year in a row that agency founder Tom McGough will have attended the annual gathering of media marketing professionals. McGough’s professional partner, Cary Sachs, the agency’s chief marketing officer and SVP, will be attending his 18th PromaxBDA gathering.
To give back to the community the agency has served for the past quarter decade, this fall it will launch a new pro bono division that will do production and promotional work for charitable organizations.
On the for-profit side, Pongo also is expanding its in-house graphics division in order to add logo and animation design to its broadcast and digital campaigns. Those services are also expected to be available this fall.
Over its quarter decade in business, Pongo has distinguished itself in several ways. First is its constant commitment to customer service, says McGough.
“We always put the client first,” he says. “We understand that we are a creative service business, and that the service comes first.”
“A lot of agencies pay lip service to great client service and putting the needs of the customer first,” says Sarah Pierce, executive director, on-air marketing and creative Services at Sony Pictures Television, who previously worked at Pongo. “I think they really live that. They have fun working on their clients’ brands and they become fans of their clients’ brands.”
Pongo’s client list runs long and loyal and includes the Disney Cable Group, the Disney/ABC Domestic Group, CBS, Discovery, Nat Geo, Game Show Network, ABC Family, 20th Century Television, Debar-Mercury, MGM TV, Nickelodeon and many others.
“Our cuts are like the Phil Spector wall of sound,” says Sachs. “Everything here is energetic. We never want our clients to come back and say give it more. It’s always tone it down. Our creative is aggressive, balls to the wall, exciting. Within the first three seconds, we are grabbing you no matter what.”
That “wall of sound” approach has become known as the “Pongo Punch,” and the agency also prides itself on the “Pongo Push,” in which they take a brief pause in the action and zoom in on a single frame.
“The Pongo Push is a visual moment that grabs your attention, takes a breath for a joke or a beat for a visual reaction onscreen, and then turns up the heat. It’s in your face,” says McGough.
Pongo also has a secret weapon in the form of Sachs.
“Cary Sachs is one of the greatest promo editors I’ve ever worked with,” says Vincent Aricco, creative director at Disney Channel. “The guy knows how to cut like no other. He understands pacing. He understands how to stop and speed up. He knows how to rearrange cuts and put them together unlike anyone else. Their editorial is amazing.”
Pierce also notes Pongo’s work in comedy: “I think they do an amazing job with comedy, which is one of the tougher things to do.”
Finally, Pongo emphasizes sound before video and that gives its work a seamless feel.
“Cary came to the company with a philosophy as well as expertise,” says McGough. “He starts with the audio. All of that is laid out before a lick of video is even seen. That’s where the heart of a great spot comes from.”
“They put a tremendous amount of thought into everything they do,” says Pierce. “That’s what separates spectacular spots from workman-like spots.”